BusinessDay

Reps minority caucus asks Buhari to avert airline operations shutdown

... as lawmakers hold emergency sitting Monday

The minority caucus in the House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate steps to avert an imminent shutdown of flight operations in the country as such would have grave consequences on national life.

The call is sequel to the notice by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to shut down flight operations in the country by Monday, May 9, 2022 due to the unbearable high cost of aviation fuel (JetA1) from N190 to N700 per liter.

Ndudi Elumelu, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives made this call on behalf of the opposition lawmakers in a statement on Saturday.

The caucus said this worrisome development in Nigeria, a major producer of oil, is another very sad commentary on the unpardonable failure, corruption, incompetence, negative policies and lack of capacity of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration to effectively manage our national economy.

Elumelu said: “As representatives of the people, the Minority Caucus is concerned because aviation is pivotal to the operation, sustenance and survival of other key sectors of the economy and any shutdown of flight operations will have devastating spiral effect and worsen the excruciating economic hardship and further escalate insecurity in the country.

“This is because apart from the direct disabling of thousands of aviation related jobs and ancillary businesses, a shutdown of the sector will also have grave negative impact on critical government and public sector activities which are sustained by air travelling.

“It is instructive to note that the aviation sector is no longer an exclusive reserve of the elite, but plays central role in the movement of personnel and equipment that drive and sustain services and operations which benefit the masses in healthcare, manufacturing, education, food production, telecommunication, retailing, banking and finance, hospitality, entertainment, power, security and other key sectors.

Read also: Airlines continue ticket sales despite planned shut down

“A shutdown of the aviation sector will therefore cripple millions of businesses as well as economic and commercial activities thereby increasing unemployment, worsen the economic hardship, put pressure on our already ailing roads and exacerbate insecurity in our country.

“Moreover, the situation is a huge threat to our national integrity as it erodes the confidence of the International Community and foreign investors in our country thereby encouraging the movement of investments to neigbouring countries,” it said.

The caucus called on President Buhari to wake up, note the grave import of the situation and save the aviation sector from imminent collapse by immediately addressing the fuel crisis and other challenges in the industry.

“Mr. President should critically address the crisis in the petroleum industry by reviewing the counter-productive policies and curbing the corruption in his administration so as to save our national economy from collapse under his watch.”

Emergency meeting holds Monday

Meanwhile, the House is to hold an emergency plenary on Monday to discuss critical issues of national importance which may not be unconnected with the crisis in the aviation sector.

The House had on Wednesday adjorned plenary to May 24, but Yahaya Danzaria Clerk to the Green Chamber in a notice said the lawmakers would reconvene Monday.

“This is to inform all Hon Members, staff, media and the general public that the House hereby recalls all Hon. Members for an emergency plenary session against Monday, 9th May, 2022 at 2:00pm.

“It is particularly intended to discuss critical issues of national importance. The House regrets any inconvenience this short notice would have caused”, the notice read.

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